It’s hard to believe that you still had to convert your BTC into USD in order to buy ETH on Coinbase. The company is finally adding direct cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency conversions.
The feature works with Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), 0x (ZRX) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). It is only available to U.S. customers for now, but the company plans to roll out the feature to other countries too.
Let’s look at the fees more closely. If you live in Europe or the U.S., every time you buy or sell cryptocurrencies using USD or EUR, you pay at least 1.49 percent in fees on top of the spread (the difference between the highest selling price and the lowest purchasing price). Fees are even higher if you’re using a credit or debit card.
Coinbase says that the spread between a fiat currency and a cryptocurrency should be around 0.5 percent but may vary depending on the trading pair and the order queue.
If you buy or sell less than 200 USD or equivalent, fees get much more expensive. For instance, a $10 order will generate $0.99 in fees, or 9.9 percent. Customers pay 3 percent in fees for a $100 order.
But the good news is that it’s a completely different story with token-to-token transactions. Coinbase doesn’t charge you any markup fee — but there’s some inevitable spread. And with some obscure trading pairs (exchanging ZRX for BCH for instance), you might end up paying around 1 percent in spread. Still, it’s a much better user experience for those who just want to trade on Coinbase.
Without even mentioning other exchanges, Coinbase Pro users have been able to trade between multiple cryptocurrencies for a long time. But Coinbase is still the entry gate for many new cryptocurrency users.